Not all Renaissance tapestries are things of stupendous skill and beauty. Some are wonky, crudely designed, badly executed and have obviously been produced in workshops that did not cater to the finest households. These tapestries would have been made for middling merchants and comfortable farmers, not great lords and religious houses. They feature repetitive, simplistic rows of flowers and weird looking birds and animals that look like they had been drawn by children.
Detail of a tapestry in the collection of the Chateau of Langeais.
In a world where there was very little in the way of soft furnishings tapestries were important. Quite apart from their obvious aesthetic value they provided sound insulation in the hard surfaced echoing rooms, they stopped cold radiating from the stone walls and the dust from the stone from floating about.
Above all they were an important part of the trickle down economy of the time. Fine tapestries were the most expensive item you would have bought for your home at the time, by a factor of at least ten, and sometimes twenty. The time and skill which goes into producing a tapestry is mind boggling and only the rich and powerful aristocracy could afford such an expense. Lower down the social scale people contented themselves with tapestries from less refined workshops, or second hand ones.
For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.